Bad news for burrito lovers in Washington and Oregon: After a food poisoning outbreak was tracked back to their stores, Chipotle has closed all 43 locations in those two states "out of an abundance of caution," says company spokesman Chris Arnold.
Health officials in Oregon reported this weekend that they were able to trace an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) to meals purchased at eight Chipotle restaurants in Washington and Oregon between October 14 and 23. So far, 22 people have been affected, with a third of those requiring hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.
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Officials expect more people to seek medical attention in the coming weeks. They're advising any Chipotle customers who've "become ill with vomiting and bloody diarrhea, to see their health care provider and mention this outbreak.”
E. Coli bacteria normally live in the intestines of humans and animals; most of the time they are harmless. But some types, like STEC, cause the symptoms of food poisoning when people eat food or water contaminated with the bacteria.
NBC News reports that the investigation is still in the beginning stages, but pinpointed the likely source of this outbreak as “fresh food product delivered to Chipotle restaurants and other places.”
Arnold told USA Today the decision to close all stores was made swiftly after officials warned the company about the health concern. The restaurants will re-open once the investigation concludes, and each location is deemed safe, he added. There are currently no plans to shut down Chipotle restaurants elsewhere.
But for the time being, Chipotle fans in the Pacific Northwest will need to get their over-stuffed burrito fix elsewhere.